Arts & Culture

KCUR’s Arts & Culture Desk covers arts news from music to visual art to dance and theater, with a focus on Kansas and Missouri.

Our reporters explore the behind-the-scene stories about newsmakers and emerging artists. We also take a look at the intersections of arts and technology, science and creativity, and present profiles of creative people. 

Paul Andrews /

For the past six years, Jyoti Mukharji has opened her home kitchen to teach Kansas Citians about Indian cooking.

But to her fans, her classes are more than just about learning how to cook; she shares health tips and personal stories ... such as how she defied expectations on arranged marriage and on going to med school.


  • Jyoti Mukharji, local culinary instructor

It's not a new story: newspapers are in flux. Recently, Yael Abouhalkah, a longtime Kansas City Star journalist, was laid off; he was one of only two editorial writers at the paper.

What is the significance of the newspaper editorial — especially in a time when nearly everyone can broadcast their opinion online? And how are layoffs affecting newsrooms nationwide?

Plus, Question Quest sifts through the legend and superstition to find the true story behind the Black Angel in Iowa City, Iowa.

Is nature a place to unplug ... or is it a photo op for social media? (#nature #gettingoutthere)? The relationship between technology and the wilderness.

Plus, a look back at how Leon Jordan and others consolidated black political power in Kansas City.


Is the gas station central to the Midwestern experience? A look at the proposal that called for removing a street to expand a fuel stop in Westport, plus two bloggers who love QuikTrip so much that they've reviewed the food there.


The 2006 film Idiocracy has become shorthand for the dumbing down of American culture. What are we really saying when we reference the movie?


An interview with the political correspondent at NPR. How did her conservative Christian background and growing up in KC help her connect with people on the campaign trail?

Plus, Question Quest looks into a mysterious octagon in Belton.


In this episode, Cody dives into a strange mix of karaoke, theater nerdery and artist subcultures to find out what happened to an odd roadhouse bar in Kansas City, Kansas.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

They're a Northland brother and sister who have traveled the world — he as a food writer and photographer, she in a career that's included time as an Olympic figure skater and a local TV news anchor. We chat with Bonjwing and Bonyen Lee in a family Portrait Session show.


Missouri Division of Tourism / Flickr - CC

What to gaze upon this weekend?

There’s plenty to see, including rodeo performers and commemorative warbirds in daring action, scads of visual art around the Country Club Plaza and a singularly crazy sock puppet that successfully blows up the norm – funny how it only takes one.

So set your peepers on “watch” and revel in the readily observable. If it gets to be too much, I guess you can close an eye. But not both. C’mon, let’s get with the program.

1. American Royal Pro Rodeo

An interview with the outgoing managing editor of The Pitch, who's leaving town to write about the craft beer industry at Brewbound. We hear his take on KC's beer scene, which he covered for The Pitch, plus his assessment of the state of journalism here.


  • Justin Kendall
Courtesy of LaBudde Special Collections / UMKC

UMKC alumna Jeanne Drewes spent years traveling to Cuba, partnering with Ediciones Vigía, an independent publishing company and collective of book artists in Matanzas, Cuba. Over that time, she amassed a sizeable collection of Cuban books, some of which she recently donated to the LaBudde Special Collections.

Courtesy of Bummer

Story of a Song is a monthly segment on KCUR's Central Standard in which local musicians tell the story behind a song they have written or are performing.

The Band: Bummer

The Song: "Bad News"

The Songwriters: Matt Perrin and Mike Gustafson

Monet's Final Endeavor Of 'Water Lilies'

Sep 19, 2016
Claude Monet / Public domain

Claude Monet's water lily paintings are some of the most beloved works of art in history, but the painter was endlessly frustrated by the elusiveness of his subject. Ross King, author of Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies, says the artist worked tirelessly on them, going so far as to have his barber trim his hair while he painted.

A look at what's going on at this week's TechWeek conference in KC. Plus, an encore interview with the CEO of KC-based EyeVerify, which just sold for a lot of money (reportedly $100 million) to Alibaba.


Colleges are attracting more students than ever before. And when they get there from rural or urban settings, from diverse backgrounds, they have to figure out — some for the first time — how to deal with difference.


Matthew Loper of Grandview, Indiana, at left, and Sam Dunning of Benton, Kentucky, work on sculptures at the Adams County, Illinois, fair.
Rich Egger / for Harvest Public Media

Sandy Songer of Broken Bow, Oklahoma, has a bit of advice for anyone who wants to watch chainsaw artists in action.

“If you’re going to stay around us very long, you need to put some earplugs in,” she says with a laugh, as chainsaws revved and roared behind her like race cars, drowning out everything else in the background.

From carnival barkers, to Ferris wheels humming, to snorts and moos of livestock shows, late-summer state and county fairs are noisy, chaotic affairs. Add to the din this season: chainsaws buzzing.

Coloring books, dodgeball, spelling bees . . . Kids' activities are all the rage for adults these days. Kansas City actor and writer David Wayne Reed has hopped on the bandwagon and, with an ArtsKC Inspiration Grant, launched a new live storytelling event called "Shelf Life."

We hear about the project — think "The Moth meets Antiques Roadshow" — and we get a sneak preview of the first event.


Local artists are painting the town red (and other colors too) as the annual Brush Creek Art Walk competition strikes canvases next weekend, along the banks of Brush Creek. You can watch people create their works en plein air, but keep in mind that dealing with the great outdoors isn't as easy as the masters might make it seem.


Henry Grossman

With their cameras, the best photographers can change how we see and think about the world around us. For more than 50 years, Henry Grossman has made portraits of cultural and political  legends, including The Beatles, Muhammad Ali and President John F. Kennedy.

Recently, Google Maps started showing "areas of interest" in an orange color on the app. KC's areas of interested included the Plaza and Crown Center. Not included: 18th and Vine or the ruins of Quindaro in KCK.

We explore the ways that computer algorithms could reflect someone's prejudice or assumptions — or perhaps just reinforce our own.


It's a familiar sight in airplanes today: hordes of people, trying to avoid the checked baggage fee, struggling to shove their wheelie suitcases in an overhead compartment.

But a KU professor says that checked baggage fees not only are improving an airline's bottom line — they also make the flying experience better.


Garrison Keillor hosted A Prairie Home Companion for 41 years but the baton has now been passed. Singer and mandolinist Chris Thile is the new host of the variety radio show, and he's excited to make his mark on the legacy program.

A talk with a local visual and performing artist who has just released his first collection of poetry.


Chico Sierra has a reading on September 15 at the Raven Bookstore in Lawrence.


You may not know his name, but you might know his work: the giant, colorful animals lurking on walls around the Crossroads and Westport, and in the halls of Children's Mercy Hospital. Meet Scribe, who has a new children's book and an album of music inspired by his art coming out this month.


The DLC / Flickr -- CC

How do you tell a city's history? We talk with the head of one of the city's largest and most important historical collections on his last day on the job.


Paul Andrews /

For Mark Bedell, school was a safe haven.

“It gave me an opportunity to be a kid because I had to be an adult a lot sooner than most kids should have to be an adult,” he told guest host Brian Ellison on Central Standard.

Paul Andrews /

He was homeless in the ninth grade. And today, he's in charge of the Kansas City Public Schools. Meet the new superintendent.


Going To The End Of Himself

Aug 25, 2016

An excerpt from Ghost Notes, a new music podcast in KC. Host Hannah Copeland talks with local singer/songwriter Calvin Arsenia.


Why are so many teachers running for political office? We talk with local educators who want to be local legislators.


Why get married? Once, there was a time where that might have seemed like a silly question. But now, many people can tell you exactly why not. We examine how marriage has been changing over the last few decades ... and what it might look like in the future.